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About Dr James Ng

Prominent historian and medical practitioner Dr James Ng, recognising the importance of the Lawrence Chinese Camp in Otago gold-mining history and in the pioneer history of the Cantonese Chinese New Zealand, purchased the land that was the site of the Camp, in 2004. He established the Lawrence Chinese Camp Charitable Trust to administer, develop and preserve the site. He was its chairman until 2017. Now retired, he continues to be supportive of the Trust and its work.

Early Life

James Ng (Ng Tak Ming 伍德明) was born in 1936 in Wing Loong Village, in Taishan county, Guangdong province, China. James came to New Zealand with his mother Tso Liu Oi and his elder brother Ivan in 1941, at the age of five. With the Japanese about to invade Taishan, they fled to Hong Kong, then to Gore, where James’ father Ng Eng Kwong and his eldest brother Norman were already living. His father and grandfather owned a laundry there. 

In 1946, the family moved to Ashburton. His father set up another successful laundry in the town. James attended Ashburton High School and then the University of Otago, where he studied medicine. He and his pharmacist and writer wife Eva Wong-Ng have three children: Denise, Stephen and Jeffrey.


Professional Life

James went into private practice as a general practitioner at Roslyn, Dunedin. Whilst a GP, Jim developed a life-long passion for NZ-Chinese history and researched and wrote a seminal book of four volumes "Windows on a Chinese Past" on New Zealand Chinese history, published in 1999. He and his wife founded the New Zealand Heritage Research Charitable Trust which is a repository of research materials on NZ Chinese. Its first collection, The ‘Ng New Zealand Chinese Heritage Collection’ is recognised by UNESCO on the Aotearoa New Zealand Memory of the World Register as a collection of national importance.


Community service

James has played an active part in community roles including: national executive member in the NZ Medical Association, President of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Convener of the Community Trust Otago Grants committee, Founding Chairman of the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust, Creative NZ Council, Prime Minister's Honour's Review Committee, Chairman Nurses Memorial Fund, Founding Chairman Dunedin Chinese Garden, Otago Medical Research Foundation, Asia 2000 Foundation, Chair of China Week in the Dunedin 150th Anniversary celebrations, Chair of the Shanghai-Otago Trade Match, a negotiator for the Shanghai-Dunedin Sister City link, Founding Chair of the Shanghai-Dunedin Friendship Society, Session Clerk of the Dunedin Chinese Presbyterian Church.


James was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by Otago University in recognition of his literary work. For community work James has been awarded an MBE, CNZM, the Medal of the Dominican Order, Paul Harris Fellow and a Seyip Cantonese Association Citation.

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